Ohio Community College Grads Find Further Success at WGU

Catherine Aldrich
Graduate, Northwest State Community College
WGU student, MBA IT Management

“Work on the master’s degree is causing me to twist my brain in different ways, and that’s rewarding.”

Catherine Aldrich Right out of high school I attended a “regular” college. I had many life events occur, and ended up moving to a different state, getting divorced, and never finishing. In 1980, I was newly re-married, laid off from a factory, and the job market was quite poor. I decided to attend Northwest State Technical College, located in Archbold, Ohio. Even though I had been more of a math/science geek, I decided to get the two-year business/secretarial degree.

It was easy for me to obtain a job with the credentials and the experience and the education from Northwest Technical College. I was able to pick up [computer] skills and transitioned to more of a data/computer person. I eventually ended up with a job title of Management Information System Specialist.

From the time I graduated from Northwest Technical College until we started having children, I tried various traditional four-year college classes. I finished classes, but never enough for a degree. Since I liked working with computers, I went back to Northwest and in three semesters obtained a dual degree in network programming/computer programming. The classes really helped prepare me for the work environment; I actually knew how to do something and it wasn’t all just “book learning.”

I later went to Defiance College and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology in 2003 (summa cum laude). I decided to get a B.S. degree mainly so I could teach at a community college. The courses for the B.S. degree were more theoretical, compared to the community college, which are hands-on. I feel the community college prepared me more for actually working, while the four-year college prepared me more for furthering my career.

Before graduation from NSCC, I obtained a job working for Northwest Ohio Computer Association, where I still work. I’ve been a programmer, database administrator, and currently I’m a systems engineer. I also teach part-time at NSCC, where it all began. I teach programming classes.

I wanted to obtain a master’s degree for multiple reasons. In order to teach at a higher level, I need a master’s degree. I want to have as many tools as possible if I need to look for different work. Also, if I ever retire, I want to be able to consult or continue working in some other capacity, and a master’s degree gives me more credibility.

WGU allows me to work on classes whenever I have a spare moment or two. I sometimes have time in between my two jobs—maybe an hour, maybe none, maybe more—and I can use that time and work on WGU classes. If I wake up in the middle of the night and I’m so inclined, I can work on the classes.

Having spent so many years in a technical capacity, the work on the master’s degree is causing me to twist my brain in different ways, and that’s rewarding. Having the master’s degree will give me greater opportunities to teach, to consult. The classes have already helped with my current job as I’ve given suggestions to some “higher-ups” based on even just the first class I completed. Earning my degree will give me more freedom and opportunities in an ever-evolving job market.

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